In among a national housing crisis which sees 1.1 million people on social housing lists, Aylesbury Vale has topped the list of the highest increase in empty homes from 2017-18 in the entirety of the UK.
There was an increase from 126, to 404 empty houses from 2017 to 2018.
This marks a 221% increase and is the highest in the whole of the UK.
There are a total of 80,702 houses in the Aylebsury Vale according to the ONS. There are 333.994 houses in Buckinghamshire.
The Chiltern area, despite having a 12% decrease in empty homes, still has 402 empty homes. This works out at over one in 100 homes in the area are empty.
South Bucks also scored very highly, with 433 empty homes. One in 67 homes in South Buckinghamshire was empty, according ONS Data.
Chris Bailey. Campaign Manager for Action on Empty Homes said: "it is simply unacceptable to have over 216,000 long-term empty homes in England in the middle of a national housing crisis with 1.1million people on social housing waiting lists, homelessness at a ten year high (based on Government figures) and over 82,000 families and 120,00 children in temporary accommodation at a cost to taxpayers of £1bn a year.”
“We want to see Government taking action and supporting local councils with funding to bring homes back to use.”
“This isn’t just about enforcement, and charging owners and landlords extra council tax, important though that can be, it is also about helping owners with grants and loans to bring outdated or derelict property up to standard and into use.”
“Action on Empty Homes support local solutions to this national problem and over 100 local councils (1 in 3) supported our most recent week of action on the issue (October 2018) but it is time Government helped turn some good local examples of action into a national housing turnaround.
"Because this problem is simply too big for local councils to tackle alone and since Government assistance ended it has got a lot worse, almost everywhere in England.”
AVDC's Cllr Mark Winn, Cabinet Member for Communities responded to the data, citing a 'change in data reporting methods' for the reason.
"AVDC actually bucked the national trend by reducing the number of empty properties by 25% between 2012-2018. The increase between 2017-18 merely reflects a change in data reporting methods and is not an actual upward trend in the number of empty properties. Numbers remain well below the national average, with less than 0.5% of all dwellings in Aylesbury Vale being listed as long term empty properties, compared to the figure for England which is 0.9%.
“Of course we have a further challenge in Aylesbury Vale being a growth area; as soon as a new dwelling is completed and has not been occupied within six months, it becomes a long term empty dwelling. For these properties, there is little meaningful action that the local authority can take in the short term.
"Despite this, AVDC remains committed to ensuring the numbers of empty properties are reduced further. I brought forward an Empty Homes Policy in 2018 that combines encouragement, financial assistance and where necessary, enforcement, to help further reduce the number of empty homes in the Vale."
If a resident is concerned that a property is empty, unused and could be brought back into habitable use, please email EnvHealth@aylesburyvaledc.gov.uk.